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Human Talk: Websites

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One of the biggest hangups I see with marketers working in the online space, is thinking that they must have newest and hottest technologies in order to meet their online goals with their website. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with web technology trends themselves. In fact, with as fast as the online industry changes, the ability to spot trends in the space is priceless.

The problem arises when this thinking leads to a web strategy that spends most of its time chasing the coolest trends on the web. This leaves the company persona to the mercy of technology, instead of bringing that personality to the web and bringing it to life with technology.

A better strategy would be to look for ways to make the online experience less of an interaction with technology and making more of an experience with the human qualities of the brand.

Amazon does an amazing job of this by personalizing my experience, and talking to me like a human being. They could have just as easily said, “You are logged in” instead of greeting me with a hello.

Amazon Welcome

The Redbox is not only my favorite place to rent a movie. I’m in love with their website and computer kiosk screens because of how much thought has been put into every message. They have taken every opportunity (even if they are just confirming that the rental process is complete) and use it to give the company a voice and personality.

RedBox Your Disc is Ready

Human talk goes further than just making sure your website copy is written with a human voice. Talking like a human also means understanding what your visitors are looking for and organizing them in logical way, making the whole website easy to navigate.

Take the American Airlines website for example. Why are there so many choices under the “travel information” section?

American Airlines Menus

JetBlue does a much better job, by taking the time to understand what their visitors want, simplifying the whole process, and then making it easy to navigate to.

Jet Blue Menus

Lets not forget about 404 pages, and the lack of attention these neglected pages receive. It’s page that usually says something like, “Page Not Found”, and it often looks nothing like the rest of the website. 

This is a place you hope visitors don’t show up at, but should take the time to make sure that even this page shares the same voice as the rest of the website.

Smashing Magazine compiled a list of 404 pages with personality. Technorati has one of my favorite 404 pages, because even as it is informing you that the page you are searching for can’t be found, it is subtly telling you that Technorati is a powerhouse when it comes to blog tracking.

Technorati 404 Page

Here’s the Fresh Peel custom 404 page.

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What other ways can a website create an experience with the human qualities of the brand?

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This post is part of the Human Talk series. 

If you would like to contribute your good or bad Human Talk examples, Email me. I’ll accept photos, stories, videos, audio, etc. and give credit where credit is due.

  1. Chris,

    Agreed on the use of the newest tech in order to achieve goals. I ran into this quite a bit myself as I spent too much time on Facebook, Myspace and a few others. The problem is that marketers are expected to understand these things in order to use them correctly for their company. Getting sapped up in too many services will be something that everyone must manage in the future.

    Being more human online is difficult for people because they naturally do what they have seen. Brand personification is a great idea for many companies, and if implemented correctly should reach across all your marketing, including the web.

  2. Chris

    Another sharp observation. It’s so easy to use boring corporate copy throughout a web app or web site. I guess this happens because we are so focused on coding and design that we leave copy until last, if we think about it at all. The lesson, as you said, is to set your persona free!!

    By the way, great link to the Smashing magazine list.

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